Dani Larkin – ‘Walking With Natives’ Tour

Pipped by RTE Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, Double J (Australia) and Folk Radio UK as a rising star on the Irish folk and alternative scene, the last few years have been a breakthrough for this emerging alt-folk artist, with 2023 shaping up to be an even bigger year with new music on the way and several debut global live tours.

Nominated for ‘Best Single’ (2022) ‘Best Album’ (2021) at Northern Ireland Music Prize, and ‘Best Emerging Artist‘ at RTE Folk Awards (2021), Dani Larkin has been an artist picking up speed with each release, and one that has been making her mark on the industry, in her own way.

An artist renowned for her unforgettable live performances, her magical songwriting with her vocal always taking centre stage, accompanied by her impressive guitar and banjo playing. Larkin has the ability to blend the old and new perfectly through her songwriting, delicately weaving themes of Celtic folklore with the more modern day landscape of her own experiences.

Christine Bovill – From Piaf to Pop

Christine Bovill’s award-winning Paris established her reputation as one of Europe’s finest interpreters of French song. In her new show, she travels into the 60s and the Americanisation of French music: le yé-yé. A time of great cultural change in France, would the high art of chanson survive…?

This new show – a smash-hit sell out at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe – offers a sexy and delicious celebration of the Golden Age of French song and how it evolved during the Swinging Sixties. Singing in both French and English, she honours many stars including Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy.

Edinburgh Fringe reviews:

“Christine Bovill concocts a sublime evening of French pop classics in Paris: From Piaf to Pop, bringing a sense of warm charm, vocal prowess, and knowledgeable insight to the fold” ★★★★★ Culture Fix

“For a brief escape from the troubles of the world, there can be no finer prescription than a healthy dose of Paris” ★★★★★ Braw Theatre

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating



Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection

Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection 2, sees the Nashville-based musician step further from the pedal steel and towards centrestage. Released on the evergreen Full Time Hobby label, this new collection of tracks is a kaleidoscopic collection of folk, jazz, and pop, cut through with immaculately-rendered songwriting.

Romford to Nashville is hardly the most well-trodden of paths, but for Spencer Cullum it was a way of getting to the essential heart of pedal steel, what was then and remains to this day his musical raison d’être.

Growing up in a large East London town brought him early exposure to classic pub rock by way of his father such as Dr. Feelgood and Thin Lizzy, and farther-flung music by way of his mother, such as Talking Heads and Lou Reed. However, it was learning pedal steel from legendary English player B. J. Cole that set him on the path he still walks today. 

After touring with Nashville-based groups and hearing tales of “seasoned Nashville steel players”, the young musician upped sticks and found a “nice little crowd of weirdos” in his chosen city. Cullum has always maintained a somewhat silent presence-even now saying “I still want to hide behind my pedal steel in fear”-but 2020 saw him release his debut solo effort, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection. Despite his project with Jeremy Fetzer, Steelism, showing off more of his talents, never before had he felt the limelight so firmly on him. 

Although…Coin Collection’s modus operandi was “a very quintessential English folk record, but with really good Nashville players”, Cullum says of…Coin Collection 2 that “I wanted to be different. I wanted to try and pull away from wearing my influences on my sleeve… I was trying to pick out ideas that were new to me. You can never escape your musical influences but I wanted them to be more hidden subconsciously than upfront.”Though you can pick out the odd similarity to other things here and there-The Beach Boys’Friends LP, perhaps, or The Incredible String Band, or Joni Mitchell-the thing is decidedly Cullum’s own. 

What’s also reassuring is that there hasn’t been some giant sonic leap from…Coin Collection, instead that the beautifully sun-kissed, English country garden, bees-buzzing-round-lager atmosphere has remained, but complicated, weirded, deepened. Much in the same way that the album doesn’t wear its influences (Amon Duul II, Skip Spence, Ennio Morricone, ChuKosaka, Michael Chapman) lightly but rather is steeped in them and toys with them, Cullum brought in a host of guests to turn…Coin Collection 2 loose from being a purely solo effort.

Rich Ruth
Rich Ruth – a.k.a. veteran Nashville-based musician Michael Ruth – took a break from touring with various bands in 2018 and dedicated himself to composing ambient music in his small home studio, focusing on the diverse traditions of ambient, new age, spiritual jazz, Kosmiche, and minimalist music. His ideas became fully realized with the inclusion of additional players, pairing his repetitive, droning synthesizer movements with spur-of-the-moment improvisation to transform the material into something much more lush and unpredictable.

One summer morning, Ruth was held up at gunpoint and carjacked by two people outside of his home. His music allowed him to work through this personal struggle, infusing his 2019 debut album, Calming Signals, with striking layers of angst and emotion. Where There’s Life followed in 2021, a collection of meditative pieces written in the early months of the pandemic manifesting the collective sense of uncertainty and solitude of the time.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating



Pye Corner Audio – Live set

Pye Corner Audio is a British electronic music project by Martin Jenkins. He deals in an eerie, fragile strain of electronic music mixing the Radiophonic/library music sound, sometimes with a post-punk influence that aligns him firmly with such seasoned hauntologists as Mordant Music, Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle.

Jenkins refers to himself as the mysterious and nameless Head Technician in most of his online profiles, and extra detail is taken to make the audio and visual elements of his performances look and sound worn and vintage.

PCA first came to attention with 4 volumes of Black Mill Tapeson his own label Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services. Like his contemporaries Demdike Stare and Ghost Box, Martin seemed to be tapping into some hidden energy current, channelling spirits via electrical means. The pioneering transmissions of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop could be detected lurking within the music’s staticky swirl; so could the ominous throb of John Carpenter’s film soundtracks.

Since 2021 he has recorded three timeless LPs for Ghost Box and the 5th Black Mill Tapes volume for Barcelona label Lapsus, and has also contributed numerous singles and Eps that come across as mini-albums for labels including Death Waltz, Lapsus and Ecstatic.

The musical landscape has changed considerably in the past decade, but what is remarkable about Pye Corner Audio’s material is that it hasn’t aged a day; its retro-futurist transmissions sound just as mysteriously compelling as they did the first time around. While they purport to faithfully transcribe the sound of yesterday’s technology, they end up being something more: a record of what we wish the past sounded like –a rickety tape transfer of desire itself, spooled and boxed, just awaiting discovery.


Matthew and the Atlas (Solo)

Across Matt Hegarty’s first three LPs, and the four stripped back EPs that preceded and followed them, he has traversed a range of musical territories from classic acoustic folk, to dramatic synth-laden electronica, and urgent guitar led alt-rock.

The common thread in his Matthew and the Atlas project has been a songwriting style that marries a subtle melodic sensibility  with lyrics full of natural imagery and dark emotional heft – all delivered in his striking and  distinctive vocal. In the process Hegarty has quietly built a major cult following in Europe and and the US.

‘[Morning Dancer] weaves an emotional tapestry around you as you listen.’ (Thank Folk For That)


With support from Lemoncello


Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved Seating


Kate Nicholson: Heart Sells Poison Single Launch

Currently based in the North Coast following spells in both Belfast and Australia, Kate Nicholson has been immersed in music from an early age and has been writing songs since acquiring a guitar at age 17.  The combination of a global pandemic and new motherhood created the catalyst for the creation of her debut album Fallen from Grace released in 2022.

This has led to recognition as both a singer and songwriter with National radio play, TV support and festival performances as well as a nomination for the NI Music Prize Best Album and Best Single in 2022. 

Kate blends sounds from New Orleans, Nashville Tennessee and home with inflections of Americana, Blues and Alt-Country. Her songs tell tales of love, loss, treachery and ultimately hope. 

“Her Voice-Simultaneously warm, gritty and enthralling- immediately marks itself as the record’s central force…”a hugely promising talent” – Hot Press Magazine

“It’s a great voice- A great songwriter”  – Ralph McLean (BBC, IMRO Specialist Broadcaster of the Year)

“An Outstanding Debut Record- awash with colour and creativity” – The Daily Mirror

“Fallen from Grace is crammed with brilliant music”.  – The Sunday Life

James Yorkston & Nina Persson

James Yorkston, the gentleman-songwriter of the East Neuk of Fife, has released a series of albums of tenderness and melody, insight and empathy. His eye for the details in life and the richness of his brogue make a Yorkston song instantly recognisable.

His 2021 collaboration with Karl-Jonas Winqvist – the Swedish music producer, leader and conductor of The Second Hand Orchestra – resulted in the soothing, warm and sublime The Wide, Wide River (a Guardian Top 10 Folk Album of the year).

Shifting from writing on guitar to piano in early 2021, James sent 5-6 songs to Karl-Jonas, and a second collaborative release, featuring Nina, was born, the equally beguiling The Great White Sea Eagle (out January 2023).

Nina Persson became an international star in the 1990s fronting Swedish pop/rock sensations The Cardigans, before releasing a series of acclaimed albums under her own name and as A Camp. She’s also collaborated with such artists as composer David Arnold and Manic Street Preachers, and – as Nina Letar Jazz – The Soundtrack Of Our Lives‘ Martin Hederos and Nils Berg.

On The Great White Sea Eagle, Yorkston shows again that he is a significant 21st century songwriter who has chosen the perfect, if unlikely foil of Persson to help realize his compositions. It’s a beautiful, hand made collection of natural and unforced songs to be treasured. 

‘Songs crisp as winter sunlight’ – 8/10 MOJO

‘Unearthly beauty from Scottish folk musician/author and Cardigans singer’ ⭑⭑⭑⭑ UNCUT

‘A beautifully absorbing album…The two voices – one a Scottish folk mainstay, the other a Swedish pop luminary – intertwine to bold, sometimes dramatic effect. A work of real refinement’ – CLASH

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating


Sister Sledge + Full Live Band

With dance floors all over the world set alight with the contagious joy and expression in their music, the Sledge sisters became a household name and a symbol of unity with their 1979 world-wide hit and iconic album We Are Family.

The multi-lead vocal group are responsible for some of the biggest dance albums of all time. Lost in Music, He’s the Greatest Dancer and Thinking of You are universally cherished songs bring people together in love, life and soulful groove.

The group have amassed a string of Gold and Platinum hits and GRAMMY nominations and played Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury and before Popes and Presidents.

Specialising in BRINGING THE PARTY with the family’s classic hits, Debbie Sledge, Camille Sledge, Tanya Thiet, Thaddeus Sledge and David Sledge make one funky family affair.

Sister Sledge continues to deliver the ‘Sledgendary’ message: ‘Nothing is Greater than LOVE’, honouring sister Joni Sledge’s memory, the gift of family and spreading joy and togetherness that uplifts and celebrates life through love and music.

Featuring support from Winnie Ama.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly standing

The 4 of Us – Album Launch

Thirty years of playing together, and with a brand new album release lined up for 2023, the creativity of brothers, Brendan and Declan Murphy, shows no sign of abating.

The pair have forged a unique musical identity, producing original and award-winning recordings and building a loyal fan base along the way.

With an enviable catalogue of timeless songs including Mary, Washington Down, She Hits Me, Sunlight and Sugar Island, expect some beautiful songs, stunning interplay and great stories from the road.

We think it’s safe to say, this one will sell out.

Doors 1.30pm | Unreserved seating

‘Never before have I been to a gig where the atmosphere has been so electric’ –THE IRISH NEWS

The 4 of Us – Album Launch

Thirty years of playing together, and with a brand new album release lined up for 2023, the creativity of brothers, Brendan and Declan Murphy, shows no sign of abating.

The pair have forged a unique musical identity, producing original and award-winning recordings and building a loyal fan base along the way.

With an enviable catalogue of timeless songs including Mary, Washington Down, She Hits Me, Sunlight and Sugar Island, expect some beautiful songs, stunning interplay and great stories from the road.

We think it’s safe to say, this one will sell out.

Doors 1.30pm | Unreserved seating

‘Never before have I been to a gig where the atmosphere has been so electric’ –THE IRISH NEWS

David Kitt

David Kitt’s inconspicuous debut album, Small Moments, was a slow-burn collection of lo-fi recordings that crept up on the record-buying public in 2000 leading to the breakthrough success of his sophomore LP, The Big Romance. In 2002, Kitt even appeared as part of Meltdown Festival in London, as curated by David Bowie.

Kitt’s follow-up, Square 1, debuted atop the Irish charts in the balmy summer of 2003. Kitt’s initial success aligned him with a then-burgeoning scene of radio-friendly indie and folk- rock breakthrough acts, including David Gray, with whom Kitt has regularly toured alongside as a supporting musician.

However, Kitt was quickly drawn into his wider sphere of influences, from optimistic, MPC-driven hip-hop, melancholic Arthur Russell-esque funk and the more traditional but ambitious folk of his heritage. Each of these avenues were wandered at ease throughout 2004’s The Black and Red Notebook and it’s follow-up Not Fade Away.

A long history of supporting and then playing with the acclaimed rock group Tindersticks, lead to Kitt officially joining the group for the release of their 2010 LP, Falling Down a Mountain.

Touring internationally, Kitt remained creatively fertile, and yet, eight years passed between the release of his LP The Nightsaver and 2018’s Yous reaffirming him as one of Ireland’s best singer/songwriters. Yous was released on Dublin’s own All City Records, the notably and suitably eclectic label through which Kitt released From Night to Night, his debut album under the alias of New Jackson.

Solely focused on techno and house music influences, but energised by the same sense of melody and experimentation that defines Kitt’s work under his given name, the music of New Jackson has featured on some of the best-respected electronic and dance labels across Europe, including Hivern Discs, Cin Cin and Permanent Vacation.

With more releases incoming on All City and beyond, Kitt remains a unique, sincere artist and songwriter, able to meld influences, eras and sound with a timelessness earned after more than twenty years immersed in music.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Neville Staple – From the Specials

When the sad news of Terry Hall’s passing came through recently, our minds returned to one of the finest live shows CQAF have presented in many a year.

“Nothing came close to the sensational Neville Staple Band who really got the party started and had the masses dancing along” Anita Merritt-Exeter Express & Echo.

Neville Staple, Legendary front man ofThe Specials, Fun Boy Three and Special Beat, also known as The Original Rude Boy, is credited with changing the face of pop music not only once but twice. His celebrates a super 40-year career in the music business which is well documented and started out from the early days withRay King, The Coventry Automatics and his Jah Baddis Sound System, before taking to the stage withThe Specials during the famous ‘Clash’ tour.

Neville states, “I remember the massive reactions to the hit songs like Ghost Town, Too Much Too Young and Gangsters and fans still write to me about my rugged, energetic and fun stage presence. The way we brought ska to the mainstream was by mixing Jamaican music with the English style, which at the time was punk. A lot of young bands are now putting their own spin on ska -some with dance music and some with a rock beat. It’s all good. The music just makes you want to dance. Even when singing about tough times, every-day things or bad things, the beat and the rhythm makes you want to move. I turn all our live shows into a massive party. The crowd love it and sing along to all the tracks!”

Neville’s 2-Tone legacy is huge 2-Tone fused traditional ska music with punk rock attitude, energy and musical elements. The movement helped to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain. The actual black and white chequered imagery of 2 Tone has become almost as famous as the music itself.

With support bands and DJ’s, this will be a celebration not just of Neville’s amazing 40-year career but also one of the greatest talents of this generation – Terry Hall.

Doors 7.30pm | Limited Unreserved seating

Carson McHone

There is something almost excruciating about the places in between. The feeling of falling, a reassertion of gravity as one step leads to another, but just before the foot lands. The purgatory between borders, before clarity becomes whole.

Still LifeCarson McHone’s third album and first release with Merge Records, quivers like a tightrope, with songs about existing within such tension and surviving beyond the breaking point. These are stories of sabotage, confusion, and surrender. The album is a testament to the effort of reaching, sometimes flailing, for understanding and for balance. Still Life invites us to gasp at our own reflection, while acknowledging the unsettling beauty in this breath.

​McHone’s 2018 internationally released Carousel  was a reimagining of songs from her formative years coming of age playing in Texas bars. It established her as a shrewd artist who raises unconventional questions with language equally at home in a short story or a poem.  Still Life addresses a broader picture. It is thematically more refined and yet more daring. McHone’s voice remains front and center, but it’s richer, darker. Wielded more than woven. A gorgeously wrought instrument for pushing meaning forward.

The songs of Still Life were written in quiet moments between tours and recorded away from Texas in Ontario with Canadian musician and producer, Daniel Romano. Together in a home studio they cut almost the entire record themselves, calling on two friends, the versatile Mark Lalama on accordion, piano, and organ, and David Nardi with some savvy saxophone to round it out. The phrasing and tones recall the late 60’s and early 70’s, another era of transition and innovation (think John Cale, The Kinks, Richard and Linda Thompson).

This first time collaboration brings a compelling dynamic. The musical punctuation is intricate, erratic, and at times even playful. The arrangements provide texture to the landscape of the songs while sustaining the underlying thematic tension.

The album opens with “Hawks Don’t Share” a literary allusion to the creative sabotage that often confronts artistic alliance.  A pair of sparring electric guitars sets the scene, mirrored in the line, We’re both boxers babe/ we don’t make love.  Bright horns pop between phrases overtop a tight rhythm section. A jangly twelve string leads us into a driving chorus with big vocal harmonies and layered synth. The title track plays out an anguished spiraling. Right at the point where language fails, the vocals break away into fuzz guitar and violent, incessant piano, as if the turmoil can only be expressed by music.

In “Sweet Magnolia” the strings, horns, and piano create a perfect orbit for the mannered intensity of a song that soars but is essentially spoken. “End of the World” builds with dark and dissonant violins over a repetitive major guitar progression leaving us hanging on its final line, tell me what do you know of restraint?

The punchy sax and tumbling toms of “Only Lovers” play into the ruse of pretending you haven’t already fallen when you have. The background vocals are like a playground taunt.  “Someone Else” cuts right to the punch. I’m caught between the two/ sweet despair and hope renewed/ say it ain’t profound babe. The lyrics are wry and the vocals perfectly nail the attitude.  The rollicking organ and the hammering piano conspire to bust down the door and pull us along.

There are raucous and light hearted moments but ultimately this album is concerned with serious themes.  More than timeless, this record is timely, inherently modern, immediate. The final song, “Tried”, acts as a kind of eulogy for the spaces these songs embody. The bardo one must emerge from. The album challenges us to take responsibility for what we experience and how we negotiate gravity moving forward. Still Life summons us to the present in all its complexity, daring us to join in the deliberation. Here is an exposé of conscience, and a confirmation of the inherently hopeful act of creation.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Dark Tropics

A quick return for Dark Tropics after a packed-out and stunning show in January’s Out to Lunch. This time the setting is the atmospheric St Joseph’s Church and we think it will be very special.

Drawn together by a bond that stretched from Ireland to Morocco, musicians Rio McGuinness and Gerard Sands found common ground in the form of Radiohead, Aretha Franklin and The Velvet Underground.

Armed with the influences of Somerset Maugham, Paul Auster and John Cooper-Clarke, the pair formed a partnership – one that relies equally on instinct and guile.

Their creative vision has borne fruit with timeless, cinematic pop-noir. Powered by analogue instruments and retro recording techniques the music sways and breathes naturally.

Their themes are everywhere – the burning highs of lust, the fragility of heartache, the sting of betrayal and defiance in the face of hurt.

Dark Tropics released debut album Ink in late 2021 to widespread critical praise and are currently working on its follow-up.

‘Lovely, cinematic, understated pop’ -STEVE LAMACQ, BBC 6MUSIC 

‘This sounds beautiful’ – JO WILEY, BBC RADIO 2

‘Atmospheric, moody and complex with a maturity that goes beyond the realms of a debut release.’ – HOT PRESS

Doors 7.30pm | Limited Unreserved Seating


Beirut Groove Collective

Obscure 1960’s + 1970’s Clubbing Records from Africa, The Middle East + Around the World, with a special focus on Arabic Psych – Sudanese Jazz – Ethiopian Funk – Lebanese + Armenian Stompers.

Now entering its 13th year, BGC is the premier destination for soul-fuelled clubbing records from ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s Middle-East, Africa and the rest of the world. For over a decade, the DJ collective has thrown one of the Middle East’s most popular club nights in Beirut, pioneering obscure records from Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Armenia.

Representing an underground alternative to the nightlife of Beirut through regular parties in basement clubs, alternative beach venues and warehouse spaces at the forgotten fringes of the city, the BGC has been home for genuine crate-diggers and tastemakers from all over the world.

The New York Times included the BGC club nights in their list of the “Top 15” parties around the world.

Johnny Aux

Twitch Belfast presents Johnny Aux, the man behind some of the most interesting music to come out of the UK at present with acts including Paranoid London, Warmduscher, Decius, Sworn Virgins and more!

Quinn Whaley aka Johnny Aux has gained a reputation for creating distorted masterpieces in his various groups and under various pseudonyms.

The disco and 80’s sounds of Decius alongside members of Trashmouth Records/Medicine8 and Fat White Family, the rough techno anthems of Paranoid London, the classic disco sounds of Sworn Virgins or the wonky indie-pop Warmduscher, Quinn has had his influence stamped on all of these projects.

After a sellout show at the tail end of 2021, Johnny Aux returns to Twitch for a very special 2 hour set to showcase his distorted sounds!

Support on the night comes from More Gain and Twitch residents.

Doors 9.45pm | Mostly Standing

David Browne Murray – Square One Album Launch

Having studied music at the Belfast School of Music, Belfast fingerstyle guitarist David Browne Murray received a scholarship to attend the Berkelee School of Musicin Boston.

In 2004 he won the Ards Guitar Festival Young Guitarist Competition and in 2011 he was the outright winner of Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Competition.

David has been actively involved in the music scene in Belfast since his return from Berklee in 2011. Since then he has toured Ireland with some of the world’s great guitarists such as Frank Vignola, Andy McKee, Jan Akkerman and had the privilege of opening forTommy Emmanuel in a sold-out Ulster Hall.

Musical interests and inspirations couldn’t be more varied from film scores to electronica, choral and orchestral music in particular – all of which have enabled him to develop a wonderfully original take on the world’s most popular instrument.

Now, some 10 years after the release of his debut CDLift and Drag, it’s high time for a new volume aptly titledSquare One.

Recorded this year in Dock Street Studios, the new album of all original compositions contains many of the tunes that have become favourites at his live gigs over the last five years.

Doors 2.30pm | Unreserved seating

Róisín O

Enjoying a triumphant return to the Irish music scene as a solo artist, 2022 Saw Róisín O top the Irish and independent charts with her rapturously received album Courageous.

With tracks such as Heart +Bones, Still Gold, top 20 hit 2023, as well as Stolen, a co-write with Gavin James, still making waves at home and abroad, Róisín is delighted to bring her new show to CQAF.

Fresh from a world tour, Róisín entertained audiences across Europe, USA and Australia and is gearing up for an extensive Irish tour in 2023.

As well as many Irish festival appearances Róisín O has also shared the stage with a host of internationally renowned artists, including Lionel Richie, Bryan Ferry, Brad Paisley, Hozier and Colin Hay.

Róisín’s newly released album and recent world tour builds on a hugely successful musical career for the illustrious singer, but 2022 was Róisín O’s biggest year to date, with a number 1 Irish album, multiple top 20 singles and, for 2023, her renowned stage presence and electric energy is not to be missed.


Fly Magic

Timo Vollbrecht is a Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer, bandleader, and scholar. His music combines jazz with elements of post-rock, electronics, and instrumental songwriting. Originally from Germany, he has been a celebrated force in the creative music scenes of New York for over a decade. He has toured over 30 countries, appeared on numerous albums, and performed on landmark stages like the Village Vanguard and NYC’s Winter Jazz Fest.

Aside from his longstanding signature band FLY MAGIC, he also leads a trio with guitarist Ben Monder and vocalist Theo Bleckmann and has played with Branford Marsalis, Miho Hazama, Kenny Werner, and Ralph Alessi.

His latest recordings, Fly Magic (2016) and Faces in Places(2018), were both the featured “Jazz Album of the Week” on NDR Radio and appeared on influential playlists such as Spotify’s State of Jazz. His newest release, Givers & Takers, is coming out on October 21, 2022. The NYC Jazz Record describes Timo as a “luminously-fine” saxophonist whose music is “blessed with rhythmic fluidity and intricate twists.” As a composer, he has worked with dance, film, and podcasts and wrote a string quartet that was performed by the NYC-based JACK Quartet.

Moreover, Vollbrecht utilizes his insight as a practitioner to conduct scholarly research. He holds a Ph.D. from NYU with a dissertation entitled “Manfred Eicher, ECM Records: An Analysis of the Producer as Auteur.” It is an in vivo case study that portrays producer Eicher as an improviser whose ‘instrument’ is the studio. He was recently appointed Director of Jazz Studies at Brown University.

Website: www.timovollbrecht.com

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating


ARXX are a Queer Alt-Rock Gal Pal Duo. They have been making moves all over the UK and Europe, including appearances at BBC Radio 1 Big WeekendGreat Escape, Icebreaker, and Left Of The Dial, headlining House of Vans Next Era show, supporting Black Honey, Liz Lawrence and Pillow Queens on their UK Headline Tours.

Now, having been making music together since 2017, they’ve received acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, Sophie K and Huw Stephens, Radio 6’s Steve Lamacq and John Kennedy on Radio X.

In 2021, ARXX have landed their first TV sync, with their single DEEP being featured on Prime Time BBC One for the Match of The Day coverage of the 2020 Euros.

They’ve received 1.7+ million streams and have been featured on editorial playlists such as New Music Friday, Hot New Bands and The Rock List.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing

‘Honestly everything about that I just love. Oh my god that one is definitely getting me super fired up, just love it.’ Jess Iszatt – BBC Radio 1

The duo have a knack for bruising riffs and deadpan lyrics.  Their no-fucks spirit is infectious and invigorating.’  NME

‘It cements them as one of the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming guitar acts’. The Forty Five

‘A Serenading Pop song’ Steve Lamacq

‘ARXX are at the top of our every playlist right now. Their unapologetic attitude paired with a pop-edge, makes ARXX a vital addition to the queer music scene.’ – Diva Magazine

Aja- The Music of Steely Dan

Aja, taken from the classic and iconic Steely Dan album, is an 8-piece musical powerhouse of a band whose members have over 40 years’ experience in the business.

They replicate in incredible detail the original recordings of the legendary Steely Dan.  Aja have been performing these classic songs for 15 years and have grown accustomed to packed houses of music lovers of all ages and genres.

Original guitar, brass, keyboard solos and vocal harmonies are as true as can be to the original album recordings.  Their 2-hour set generally consists of theentire Aja album in the first half and is a sight and sound to behold.

Aja are:

Gerard Farrelly – Keyboards, Alan Cunningham – Drums and Percussion, Colm Lindsey – Guitars, Mark Wilde – Saxes, Serge Stavilla – Saxes, Tommy Moore – Bass and Vocals, Sinead Stone – Vocals, John Graham – Lead Vocals.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Taylor Lally – CQAF 2023 Artist in Residence

We think 2023 is going to be quite the year for Millisle-born artist Taylor Lally. After receiving her first guitar for Christmas at 11, she became enchanted with the instrument and, inspired by the music of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Bob Marley, started writing her own songs. Taylor moved to BIMM (Brighton Institute of Modern Music) to study music performance and eventually graduated with a degree in songwriting.

Waiting until she finally felt comfortable and ready, Taylor started releasing her own music independently last year. Bliss-Less Musing Life is her first single and is a warm and poignant reflection on her experiences while studying songwriting in Brighton.

Recent support slots for Steve Forbert and Mary Coughlan have contributed to her growing reputation and headline slots are now beckoning, including a sold-out Courthouse show in Bangor in February.

‘‘2023 is the start. I am finally just stepping into the world.” muses Taylor “After so many years of playing cover songs in bars, studying, writing, and sculpting my style, no words can describe how that feels

‘The singer from Co. Down has been compared to the likes of Rikki-Lee Jones with the guitar sensibilities of John Martyn. She also strikes a chord with her poignant songwriting craft. Dealing with themes of growing up in a changing Northern Ireland and healing from heartache … you can’t help but admire Taylor Lally’s impressive knack for pulling our heartstrings’ – CHORDBLOSSOM

Taylor’s performances during CQAF will be released in the coming weeks, please check back for details.


Joshua Burnside

We are very proud to welcome Joshua Burnside, a former CQAF Artist in Residence, to headline the biggest stage of the festival.

Joshua has grown immensely as an artist over the past few years and it’s been a pleasure to watch him develop. In December he sold out the Ulster Hall so it seems the rest of the world is catching up.

Joshua Burnside is an experimental folk songwriter, singer and producer. He takes influence from alternative electronica and Irish traditional song heritages, chopping and blending them with a mixture of found sounds, world music and unorthodox production methods.

Joshua Burnside is the best songwriter in Ireland right now, and probably beyond – PHIL TAGGART, SIRIUS XM

“He creates a world and lets us live in it for a while… He’s like going to the theatre” – MARK RADCIFFE, BBC Radio 2


Jeffrey Lewis and the Voltage

Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage have more or less perfected a scuzzy and urban style of indie-folk – a 21st Century mash-up of Pete Seeger, R. Crumb and Sonic Youth.

A born and raised New Yorker, Lewis has been hard at work in the underground music and art world since the turn of the century – touring throughout the world and releasing eight acclaimed albums on the record labels Rough Trade and Don Giovanni.

He is also a widely respected comics artist who self-publishes a comic book series called ‘Statics’.

On stage Lewis is backed by his band the Voltage, including long-time collaboratorsBrent Cole(drums) and Mem Pahl (bass) as well as recent addition Mallory Feuer (violin and keys).

The spectacular full-length Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage albumBad Wiring was recorded in Nashville, TN with producer Roger Moute not (Yo La Tengo) and was released November 1, 2019.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing

Nuala Kennedy with Tony Byrne and Tara Breen

World renowned traditional singer and flute player Nuala Kennedy grew up playing Irish music in Dundalk, County Louth and now lives in Ennis, County Clare.

Nuala is known for her creative reworking and reimagining of traditional songs and for her unique Irish flute style, formed in Dundalk and honed in her long-time adopted home of Edinburgh, Scotland.

She is a musical adventurer who is recognized world-wide as a superlative performer of traditional music. Day is Come (2022) by The Alt (with John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary) is the latest release on Under the Arch Records, an independent record label Nuala founded in 2014.

Nuala’s roots are first and foremost in Irish music, but she ‘something of a genre bender’ according to Living Tradition magazine.

Outside of traditional music, Nuala trained as a classical pianist and has toured and recorded with Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince BillieNorman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) and is a member of Snowflake Trio, with Norwegian musicians Vegar Vårdal and Frode Haltli.

Nuala recently sang with Janis Ian on her release The Light at the End of the Line.

Tony Byrne, Dublin guitarist, has been involved in music from a young age. Following family holidays in West Kerry, Tony developed an Interest in Irish traditional music and has been involved in the performance, recording and teaching of it since 1999. Past performances include concerts with acts such as Danu, Sharon Shannon, Michael McGoldrick, Gerry o Connor, David Munnelly Band, Matt Molloy, Paul Brady, Julie Fowlis, Lunasa and many more.

Tara Breen, a highly talented multi-instrumentalist from Ruan Co. Clare, has achieved All-Ireland titles on fiddle in every age category over the years, culminating with the All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Title in 2012. In 2014, she joined six-time Grammy award winning band, The Chieftains, and also performs with the legendary band, Stockton’s Wing. Tara recorded a wonderful duet album, Nasc, with concertina player Padraig Rynne in 2021.

‘A flute player and composer of remarkable finesse, fearless of the unknown.’ —THE IRISH TIMES

‘Cheeky, dynamic and full of ideas.’ —SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Steve Harley Acoustic Band: 50 Years A Rebel – Live on Stage

Widely considered one of the most charismatic performers on stage, Steve Harley continues to play to sold-out venues across the UK and Europe. And with the recent release of the all-acoustic CD, Uncovered, the original Cockney Rebel shows no sign of slowing down.

The Acoustic Band finds Steve supported by long-standing bandmate, violinist/guitarist Barry Wickens, with Oli Hayhurst on double bass, and Dave Delarre on lead guitar.

Steve has been playing Live shows around the world for 50 years and the thrill of another night in another place to another audience has not dimmed at all. “We have real adventures on tour, “says Steve. “I’ve seen the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun and dozens of wonderful galleries, museums and great cities, all on my down-time. I have a great life as a Wandering Minstrel!”

Uncovered includes a re-recording of Steve’s own highly-esteemed song Love, Compared With You with a newly composed third verse, plus his thus-far unrecorded Only You, and nine other songs he’s always wanted to perform.

The acoustic sets will include songs from the new CD, plus a selection from the vast and eclectic Harley Songbook. Mr Soft, Judy Teen, Sebastian and the legendary Make Me Smile will all be reproduced in the unique acoustic style.

Close-Up Culture stated: “It was an intimate night in the presence of a great musician. An individual whose passion for live performance and perfection (it shows in his face) remains undiminished.”.

Rod Stewart, who covered Steve’s song A Friend For Life, describes him as “One of the finest lyricists Britain has produced.”

MOJO said simply, “Harley creates rock songs that are proud, lyrical and full of yearning.”Steve has also been described as “A consummate performer at the top of his game,” and this show will bear that out.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Linley Hamilton: ‘Ginger’s Hollow’ Album Launch

Promising to be one of the most significant local jazz releases in many years, Linley’s new album Ginger’s Hollow is a tour de force featuring Derek DOC O’Connor (tenor sax), Cian Boylan (piano), Mark Egan (bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums).

Linley Hamilton is a trumpeter, educator and broadcaster from Belfast who has been part of the jazz scene for over 35 years.  He has recorded 5 studio albums and has just finished recording Ginger’s Hollow with his quintet, a post-bop follow-up to the acclaimed For the Record.

Linley has maintained an academic path following up his 2009 Masters in Jazz Performance from DIT and Medal for Academic Excellence, with a PhD from Ulster University Magee in 2014, and a full-time position there  as Lecturer in Music.

Linley also has a jazz show on BBC Radio Ulster, Jazz World with Linley Hamilton, which broadcasts on Saturday nights at 9pm.

In recent years, Linley has set up Magy’s Farm with his wife Maggie, a performance space mostly for jazz from around the world.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating


piglet is the project of Irish songwriter and producer Charlie Loane, born and raised in Belfast and based in South London.

His new seven songs EP is a collection of tracks that detail his experiences of mental health, substance abuse, affirmations of self-identity, trans experience and friendship.

The EP includes re-recordings of previously released solo singles ‘mill’, ‘dans note’ and ‘oan’; songs which lead to a deal with London label Blue Flowers (Puma Blue, Nilüfer Yanya, Westerman) in early 2022.

These songs were captured in a live session by NTS Radio of piglet’s expanded 9 piece band featuring members of Goat Girl and caroline.

piglet released his first EP alex’s birthday in February 2020 on South London DIY label Double Dare, a warm set of songs which, like his writ- ing with past project Great Dad, reflects themes of queer/trans experience, but with more of a personal focus. Two collaboration tracks with friends Porridge Radio were released in February 2021 through the Secretly Canadian label.

“indie bedroom-pop artist on the rise”PAPER

“music that wastes no time in getting the point across”Loud & Quiet

“scrappy and melodic songs try to make sense of the world surrounding him”FADER

“playful at times, thought-provoking at others, unfiltered and honest throughout”So Young

“There’s something of the Xiu Xius to the way piglet combines the delicate and the disarming”DIY

Diana Jones

Award winning, US singer songwriter Diana Jones is known for her gritty, literary, Appalachian influenced songs.

Adopted as an infant and raised in Long Island, NY, the fact that Diana couldn’t get enough of her brother’s Johnny Cash records finally made sense when she found her birth family and musical roots in the Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee.

Her maternal grandfather, who had formed his first teenage band with a young Chet Atkins, was happy to pass on the culture and the music that he loved to his granddaughter. Diana’s first album My Remembrance Of You (Proper Records) in 2006 garnered rave reviews internationally and set her on a path which would see her release four further critically acclaimed albums: Better Times Will Come (2008), High Atmosphere (2011), Museum Of Appalachia Recordings (2013) and Live In Concert (2016).

She has toured the globe, including performances at prestigious events such as Cambridge Folk Festival, Galway Arts Festival, Levon Helm’s Ramble in Woodstock, NY, and Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and shared stages with the likes of Richard ThompsonJanis Ian and Mary Gauthier.

She has also appeared on world-renowned TV and radio showsLater With Jools Holland, BBC4Folk America, BBC4’sSongwriters Circle and BBC Radio 2 Country with Bob Harris.

Diana’s progressive, yet historically rich, songs have been recorded by artists including Joan Baez and Gretchen Peters and have won her awards from Kerrville Folk Festival, New Song Festival and nominations from International Folk Alliance.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Saphwat Simab + Junaid Ali + guests

Celebrating the music of Afghanistan and Beyond

Saphwat Simab (Rubab virtuoso)
An official disciple of the world’s foremost Rubab master, Ustad Homayoun Sakhi of Afghanistan, Saphwat Simab is a British-born-and-bred artist who has been learning and playing the Rubab since the age of 10.

Saphwat’s tone and melodious playing has captured the hearts of audiences at every performance, his on-stage confidence and command on the instrument as well as his command on the rhythmic cycles whilst improvising in any composition with the Tabla accompaniment is mesmerising.

Saphwat has been accompanied on stage by some of the world’s most renowned Tabla masters, such as Ustad Sukhvinder Singh “Pinky”, Pandit Sanju Sahai and Ustad Shahbaz Hussain.

He has performed at some prestigious venues, such as the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, the National Court Theatre, and the Nehru Centre, as well as at some other relevant venues in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

Junaid is a tabla player amongst the younger generation. Being born and raised in London, Junaid is the student of Ustad Shahbaz Hussain and the son of Ustad Zeeshan Ali, a prominent ghazal singer. Junaid is a young exponent of the Punjab and Delhi Gharana of Tabla. Junaid hopes to carry on the legacy of his teacher and grand-father gurus, namely: Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, Ustad Allarakha Khan and Ustad Mian Shaukat Hussain Khan.

In partnership with Alghochak (Afghan Association) & Beyond Skin.

Under the current regime in Afghanistan music is forbidden. This event is Belfast sharing its City of Music status to preserve and celebrate Afghan culture.


Japan’s legendary BORIS are greeting their 30-year career as one of experimental music’s most forward-thinking, heavy, and innovative bands.  Continuing to expand their prolific catalog, the group returns with Heavy Rocks (2022) (via Relapse Records) and once again channels the classic proto-metal sounds of the 70’s into something all new.

Boris formed in 1992 and eventually arrived at the band’s current lineup of Takeshi, Wata, and Atsuo in 1996.  In the years since, Boris has tirelessly explored their own rendition of what is heavy through methods entirely their own.

Though the depths of their “heaviness” may intensify, their unique musicianship defies classification in any one genre or style, so let’s just call it real “heavy music” in extreme color. Their music has been called a “game changer” – at the leading edge of the world’s rock scene, and that influence is limitless.

They enter realms that cannot be described simply in terms of the “explosive sound” or “thunderous roars” that have become their trademark.

Recently, the group ramped up during the pandemic and released the most extreme album of their long and widely celebrated career, NO, a self-released the album, desiring to get it out as quickly as possible but intentionally called the final track on the album “Interlude” while planning its follow-up.

It’s successor came with W, their 2022 release for Sacred Bones RecordsNO and W weave together to form NOW, a duo of releases that respond to one another. In following their hardest album with this sensuous thundering masterpiece they are creating a continuous circle of harshness and healing, one that seems more relevant now than ever and shows the band operating at an apex of their musical career.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing


in partnership with the Japan Foundation


An issues-based music collective from Teesside in the North East of England. ‘We write songs about the urgencies that concern us. These songs are loud.’

Forming in 2019 and consisting of Kingsley Hall on vocals, Robbie Major  and Hugh Major on synths and noise with Cat Myers on drums, they quickly evolved from a fairly standard IDLES-lite shouty punk rock outfit to a highly politicised group that merges noise, hip hop, industrial rock, electronica, garage and an angry twitter feed to get it’s point across.

A resolutely DIY outfit and despite having little radio play (due to the nature of their lyrics),through their releases they have managed to gain fans as diverse as Sleaford Mods, Black Francis, Garbage, Billy Bragg and Elijah Wood as well as getting significant features in the NME, Rolling Stone, and the Quietus.

Now a formidable live outfit with numerous sold out shows and tours under their belt they aim to keep the momentum going into 2023.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing 


From the North Coast of Ireland, ferna tells the stories that otherwise get lost in the noise.

On a mission to amplify quiet sentiments and shift focus to hidden characters, ferna delivers a remarkable sound that merges the organic and the electronic, filled with conflicting emotions, fragile beauty and powerful hooks.

The musical alias of composer & singer-songwriter Hannah McPhillimyferna has performed alongside the likes of Foy Vance and The Gloaming, and more recently took home the NI Music Prize for Single of the Year for her first official single Wasting.

To celebrate the release of her debut album Understudyferna will perform a rare full-band show in the iconic setting of the Belfast Empire.

‘the future’s bright for ferna’ – BBC INTRODUCING

‘a bit of a wonder’ – THE IRISH TIMES

‘Beautiful and arresting’ – RADIO NOVA

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Seated

Kate Rusby

Kate Rusby, hailed as the ‘First Lady of Folk’ and a Mercury Music accolade to her name, has forged an impressive 30-year, headlining career.

A folk singer at heart, she’s taken the genre to new heights appealing way beyond the folk scene and her Yorkshire roots, headlining in the UK and internationally, performing with other big names in music across genres.

She has a number of TV, radio and film credits to her name as well as her own record company and a festival, Underneath the Stars.

2023 brings to a close a year of celebrating 30 years in the business with a new album ’30 : Happy Returns’ featuring guests: Richard HawleyKT Tunstall and Ladysmith Black Mambazo to name a few.

This follows the success of her 2020 Top 10 charting covers album Hand Me Down. Kate will be joined on stage by her band, each a virtuoso in their own right including her husband and producer Damien O’ Kane.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved Seating


Julie Campbell, known as LoneLady, is an artist from Manchester. Her music is influenced by the post-punk era, later integrating dance and funk influences.

Self-taught on many instruments including guitar, bass, synths, drum machines and later learning cello, Julie writes all the parts and plays all the instruments on her recordings, with the exception of real drums.

Created on electronic sequencers, synths and drum machines in a basement bunker beneath Somerset House, London, LoneLady’s 3rd studio album Former Things is a tour-de-force of punch-and-crunch electro, r’n’b and pop, shot through with mournful eulogies to the lost golden age of childhood and youth.

She has released 3 critically-acclaimed albums on Warp: Nerve Up (2010), Hinterland (2015) and Former Things (2021).

LoneLady’s influences include Nico, Colin Newman, Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, A Certain Ratio, Public Image Ltd. and Gang Of Four.

Doors 8.45pm | Mostly Standing


Early Show – 7.00pm

On Friday 5 May, U.S. indie-rock royalty Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss aka Quasi play their first Belfast show in 17 years at the Ulster Sports Club. After nearly three decades of launching drums and distorted pianos through the shifting interzones of harmony and chaos (moonlighting along the way with the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith, Jon Spencer and the HITmakers, Wild Flag, Built to Spill and a long list of others), the duo continue to be a genre of their own.

Hosted by self-confessed Quasi evangelists The Thin Air, this early show is part of a EU/UK tour, celebrating Breaking the Balls of History, their tenth record – and Sub Pop debut – which lands ten years after their last record, on February tenth. Three tens, which aligns with the thirty years they’ve played together. Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss have become Pacific Northwest icons, and Quasi has always felt so steadfast – their enduring friendship so generative, their energy infinite, each album more raucous and catchy and ferocious and funny than the last.

Tickets £14.

Support  From COWTOWN

Ever evolving rock band from Leeds consisting of Jonathan Nash on guitar/vocals, David Michael Shields on drums and Hilary Knott on keybass/vocals. They began life as a bizarre grungy noise duo before adding Nash and succumbing to the influence of late 70’s/early 80’s punk, post-punk and new wave; Devo, B52’s, Pere Ubu, Walls Of Voodoo, ESG, Liquid Liquid, Black Flag, Minutemen, Tom Tom Club etc, and the soundtracks that galvanised their earliest listening experiences; Teenwolf, Karate Kid, Gremlins, Beverley Hills Cop, Ghostbusters etc. Couple that with an obsessive fascination with They Might Be Giants (which explains away their namesake) and you have some idea of what to expect from the trio. Four albums in with a fifth on the way, there’s a chance you may be stuck with COWTOWN indefinitely…sorry”


Press for Breaking The Balls of History

Breaking the Balls of History is a gritty rendering of Quasi’s classic garage sound, spearheaded by the blistering single “Nowheresville,” serving as a long-awaited return to form for the band—who bring a triumphant masterclass to the forefront of Sub Pop’s modern catalog 10 years after their last record, Mole City.” [“The 33 Most Aniticpated Releases of 2023”] –PASTE

“[Queen Of Ears] Has all the Quasi earmarks: pointed lyrics, jagged melodies, skronky organ, bashing drums, and Sam & Janet’s distinctive harmonies.” – Brooklyn Vegan
“Lead single “Queen Of Ears” finds Coomes and Weiss bashing away on their keyboard and drums, respectively, lending a raw edge to an otherwise bright and poppy song. The backing vocals are clutch on this one.”- Stereogum

“A punchy blend of state-of-things stream of consciousness and melodic brightness signals the much-awaited return of Pacific Northwest legends Quasi.” – Shindig!


On their sophomore album Omens, siblings Kim and Mike Rauss AKA Kayam set off on an ethereal, psychedelic journey of self-discovery building on the success of debut albumSand to Snow.

From the intimacy of folk to indie-pop, Kayam’s sound reflects a lot of nuances and originality rooted in their multicultural upbringing in places like England, Germany, and Israel.

It is in their live performances that Kayam really excel. Kim, who provides stunning vocals, also plays the Celtic Harp.

Mike is a versatile performer who plays guitar and sings. In addition, he also builds intricate fabrics of looped parts, often using his guitar as a percussive instrument and even beatboxing from time to time.  One of the hidden gems of the festival we think.


Continuing on from one of his biggest years yet, which included a mini UK & IRE tour and not only performing but being nominated in two categories at the NI Music PrizeLeo Miyagee is one to watch.

Having established himself locally, Leo’s reach is growing across the water, with his rhythmic flow, poetic one-liners and picturesque sounding beats. He’s fast becoming one of the faces of urban music in the north.

Doors 7.45pm | Limited Unreserved Seating

Jolie Holland

Jolie Holland grew up playing music in Houston, Texas and was a traveling musician as a teenager. She formed The Be Good Tanyas with Samantha Parton in Vancouver in 1999. Shortly before The Be Good Tanyas released their debut record, Blue Horse, in 2001, Jolie Holland settled in San Francisco. It was there that she recorded the songs that eventually became Catalpa, released in 2003

Over the span of her career, Jolie Holland has knotted together a century of American song—jazz, blues, soul, rock and roll—into some stew that is impossible to categorize with any conventional critical terminology.

This is her burden and her gift, to know all of these American songs of the last ten decades in her head and her heart, and to have to wrestle with their legacy. She dives straight to the pathos of a song the way the very greatest singers, singers like Mavis Staples, or Al Green, or Skip James, or Tom Waits do.

As evident on her first recordings, Holland has no fear of the truth, and there is no emotional core that she cannot reach in song. In fact she thrives on the red hot centre of a musical composition, in all its strange and brutal detail.

Which brings us to Wine Dark Sea. Listeners to Holland’s work will recognize how her writing over the years has deepened and matured. The classic Holland lyrical concerns are evident in songs like Palm Wine Drunkard, and St. Dymphna, and Out on the Wine Dark Sea, all of which mix a density of literature and poetry to brutalities of romantic love, to the fragmentation of self and narrator in a torrent of loss and grief.

There has been no album of the recent decade with quite this sonic ambition, with quite this command of what a rock and roll song is and ought to be, but Wine Dark Sea is all of that.It is the album of a lifetime with a lifetime of work in it.

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved Seating

Blind Stitch

is a project which features the music of Kevin Murphy, a celebrated cellist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and songwriter from Cork Ireland.

He is also a founding member of critically acclaimed Irish experimental bands Slow Moving Clouds and Seti The First. Blind Stitch has just released its debut album – The Emperor’s Lung.

Kevin has featured as a guest musician with many Irish and international artists such as The National, Bon Iver, Jenny Lewis, Lisa Hannigan, Gavin Friday, Rick Danko, Seamus Fogarty, Adrian Crowley and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode.

He has also collaborated with Irish traditional and folk musicians such as John Spillane, Cathy JordanPhil Callery Cormac Breathnach, and Ger Wolfe in live settings and on recordings.

His band Seti The First co-wrote two songs on The Waterboys 2017 album Out Of All This Blue. He also participates in the People collective spearheaded by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Bryce and Aaron Dessner (The National). This has resulted in collaborations with the above artists and others in festivals across Europe in recent years including the Funkhaus in Berlin 2018 and Sounds from a Safe Harbour Cork in 2017 and 2019.

He has co-composed the score for Michael Keegan Dolan’s Swan Lake/Loch na Heala hailed by the Guardian Newspaper as the second best dance production of the 21st Century.

Kevin co-composed the score for feature film Tomato Red (2017) directed by Oscar long listed director Juanita Wilson and The Lodgers, (2018) which featured at the Toronto Film Festival. He has just finished co-composing the score for acclaimed Irish director Kim Bartley’s new feature documentary True Grit released in 2022.

Glasshouse performs Aphex Twin

Glasshouse is a Dublin–based music ensemble and arts organisation. Their mission is to elevate Irish music through commissioning and collaboration. They combine sound, space and visual design to create unforgettable live music experiences.

This event features chamber ensemble and electronics, accompanied by striking visual projections. Enjoy Glasshouse’s lush and soaring take on Aphex Twin, one of the most influential figures in electronic music.

‘Glasshouse are among the highest calibre of musicians the nation has to offer.’ NIALLER9

Badly Drawn Boy: 25 years of Badly Drawn Boy

Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy has embarked on a a series of intimate shows to celebrate 25 years of releasing music. The shows will feature a career-spanning set of hits and fan favourites as well as being his first full headline tour since 2020’s album Banana Skin Shoes.

“I’ll be playing songs from across my career, including favourites and some rarities and deep cuts. I’d like to think this is the tour I’d want to see if I was a long-time fan. Very much looking forward to it and hope to see you there.” – Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy)

It’s hard to predict what he will play from such a beautiful and eclectic discography that over nine albums has earned him the reputation as one of the U.K’s most treasured songwriters.

From his still-towering, Mercury Prize winning debut The Hour Of Bewilderbeast in 2000 to the enthralling soundtrack to Nick Hornby adaptation About A Boy (from 2002,) Have You Fed The Fish? (also 2002) which featured You Were Right, his biggest single to date.

Then there was the mental-state-of-the-nation epic Born In The U.K. (2006) and his most recent album Banana Skin Shoes which was met with great acclaim from critics.

Damon is expected mix it up each night and when you’ve got a repertoire like his, why wouldn’t you?

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Seated

Susan O’Neill

Susan has spent the last few years honing her craft as a solo performer. A songwriter of hidden depths, with a timeless voice that is equal parts balm and blowtorch, she is audacity personified, a free spirit; a real performer.

As of now she is Ireland’s best kept secret, however with the release of In The Game her collaboration album with Mick Flannery that has all changed.

In The Game saw Susan receive nominations for theChoice Music prize and the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards for ‘Album of the Year’, ‘Female Folk Artist’ of the Year, and take home the Best Original Folk Track award for the collaborative song Chain Reaction.

Susan was also shortlisted for the Vanda and Young Award for her song These Are the Days.  The collaboration album ended up being the biggest selling Irish independent record of 2021.

Susan’s song Now you see It from her EP of the same name won the 2022 RTE Radio 1 ‘Best Original Folk Song’ of the year.

Doors 1.30pm | Unreserved seating

‘Superb” – Clash Magazine

“Sorrowful Masterpiece” – American Songwriter

“I love this fucking record”  – Phoebe Bridgers

★★★★“Two stars are reborn”  – The Irish Times

9/10 “Electrifying energy”  – Hot Press

★★★★ “Exquisite”  – Sunday Business Post

★★★★“Seductive, beautifully crafted album”  – The Sunday Times

★★★★‘It’s been a long long time since a record like this has come around”- The Independent

“The most beautiful duet album to be released this year” – Heaven Magazine 


Written over a period of over a year in lockdown, At the Hotspot, produced by Joe Goddard and Al Doyle of Hot Chip, takes the raucous energy Warmduscher solidified on their critically acclaimed 2019 release Tainted Lunch, and injects it with a slightly more polished, ‘80s funk sound, kind of like stumbling home to your squatted loft after a drunken night at the local disco.

It’s crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside, and might be the most immediately enjoyable music Warmduscher have ever graced us with.

The bulk of Warmduscher’s discography – the aforementioned Tainted Lunch, as well as 2018’s Whale City and 2016’s Khaki Tears – were produced by London stalwart Dan Carey, who was instrumental in helping the band hone their fuzzed out sound.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of At the Hotspot’s recording process, Dan caught COVID, and the band found themselves having to leave their comfort zone and find a new producer fast.

Luckily, they found two, under serendipitous circumstances.  “I was in the studio with Joe and Al of Hot Chip, doing an electronic project with Igor Cavallera of Sepultura and his wife, artist/musician Laima,” explains Clams. “When I got the message saying Dan couldn’t do the album, I was like, ‘Aw, fuck!’ Then Joe and Al were simply like, ‘We’ll do it!’ It was this really weird, happy accident.”

While At the Hotspot is still very much a Warmduscher album, with all its cracks and crevices oozing garage rock bravado, the production values buff out those jagged edges in a way only these two virtuoso producers could have pulled off.

“We’re just really psyched to play this whole thing live now,” states Clams matter-of-factly. “And it’s a whole revamp—new label, new producers, new logo—new everything.”

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing

Joby Fox

Joby Fox’s new album I Once Was a Hawk Now I’m a Dove was recorded in Denmark with a young jazz group and in collaboration with one of Denmark’s top producers, Søren Mikkelsen in Medley Studios, Copenhagen. The songs are a great amalgamation of two cultures, fusing folk, pop and jazz.

Joby Fox is a native of Belfast, a songwriter, musician and storyteller, and a humanitarian; A diverse artist living between Belfast and Denmark with his roots firmly in Irish soil.

Joby is playing CQAF as part of a series of acoustic solo performances, stripped back to the bare bones which exposes the quality and raw power of the songs.

‘He has always been an emotional artist, but this is exceptional work.’ – STUART BAILLIE, BELFAST TELEGRAPH

Bernadette Morris: To The Well For Water Album Launch

Folk and traditional Irish singer-songwriter Bernadette Morris is an engaging performer who takes audiences on an emotional journey with a repertoire of songs that speak from and to the heart.

Bernadette is not only an extremely talented singer, performer, fiddle player and entertainer, she is also an exceptional songwriter.

Ten years on from the release of her critically acclaimed debut album at the CQAF, this is the launch of her latest album To the Well for Water recorded with Ben McAuley.

The recording has an array of talented musicians including Seán Óg Graham and Gerardy Thompson on guitar, Marie Morris on fiddle, Ryan Beagan on Bass, Enda Scahill on banjo and Rohan Young on bodhrán.

The album is a stunning mix of self-penned songs and co-writes with Johnny Brady, Cormac Neeson and Matt McGinn, amongst others.

‘Bernadette Morris is an amazing artist. She’s a powerful voice and a powerful female voice in Irish music.’ – RALPH McCLEAN, BBC

‘Pure of pipes, like an Irish Kate Rusby’ – THE SCOTSMAN

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Bone Machine play the music of Tom Waits

Bone Machine are a band of internationally renowned touring and recording musicians who perform a rebrand, melancholic, and punk jazz set of Tom Waits songs.

Whether or not the songs of Tom Waits play a central roll in your music collection, you simply have to experience this show live to feel the heaven-opening maelstrom of beauty scarcely captured by a live band.

From hits such as Martha, to I hope that I don’t fall in love with you, to Downtown Train, Bone Machine bring the heart, sweat and soul to performances brimming with a ramshackle sophistication and honesty as well as the renowned Waitsian monologues full of the funny anecdotes – for which Mr Waits is universally celebrated.

Their version of What’s He Building in There? has been critically applauded from Durban to Doolin!

From bourbon soaked ballads to evocative Godliness and anarchic elegance, there has never been a show that has captured the golden thread of what makes Tom Waits such a legend until now!

Ladies and gentlemen, let us present to you… BONE MACHINE!

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Children of Zeus

Elixir live hip-hop Showcase is delighted to make a return to this year’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival hosting Children of Zeus at the Oh Yeah Centre. 

Children of Zeus are a soul / hip-hop group from two of Manchester’s most respected artists Konny Kon and Tyler Daley. With both being recognised MCs and beat makers in their own right, the music they make is a reference / reflection and a nod to the music of their childhood influences and their taste for timeless sounds.

Children of Zeus came to break the trend and bring a soulful music to the forefront which was felt with the introduction of Story so Far and repeated with Travel Light providing a much needed continuation of Manchester’s rich musical history. Working with the likes of Beat Butcha on their latest project Balance, Children of Zeus have built up a solid fan base and reputation for a serious live show.

We are delighted to welcome multi–instrumentalists, Belfast Groove Collective on support, specialising in Hip-Hop, Jazz, soul and R&B with guest vocalists.

Northern Irish DJ collective Antidote DJs will host the night and fill in the blanks before, after and in between live performances.

Tom Hingley (Solo, Acoustic)

Tom Hingley is the former frontman of one of the founding members of Manchester’s The Inspiral Carpets.

Tom was the frontman during their most successful period from 1989 – 1995 finally leaving the band in 2011, singing on iconic tracks such as ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘She Comes In The Fall’, ‘Saturn 5’, ‘Joe’, ‘Sackville’ and many more.

He’s since toured the world as a solo artist as well as with his bands ‘The Lovers’ & ‘The Kar-Pets’ and brings his new show of Inspiral’s classics and solo material to CQAF.

Doors 7.30pm | Limited Unreserved Seating

Paddy Godfrey & Matt McCrum

A delicious feast of Americana by two of Belfast’s finest singer-songwriters.

Paddy Godfrey:
Paddy Godfrey  is a solo country/folk singer from Belfast with a range of original songs in which he has taken inspiration from the likes of Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. He has been playing around the country for a number of years from the corners of traditional pubs to the stages of festivals such as Stendhal.

Matt McCrum
Lisburn-based singer songwriter Matt McCrum is equipped with an arsenal of cowboy lullabies depicting a life of desperation, addiction, isolation and everything in between while navigating your way through adulthood.

Taking inspiration from the likes of John Prine, Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt, Matt has been steadily gigging around Belfast for many years.

Doors 1.30pm | Unreserved seating

Niamh Dunne

Niamh Dunne of Beoga fame has released her first solo project of self-penned songs to a rapturous critical welcome. The album Tides was released September 2022.

After Beoga’s six albums, a shortlist for a Grammy and numerous international tours, Niamh is no stranger to reaching a wider international audience as a result of the band co-writing Ed Sheeran’s massive hits Galway Girl and Nancy Mulligan and appearing as Ed’s special guests on his headlining Glastonbury 2017 performance and subsequent Irish tour.

This is Niamh’s first solo project in ten years and her first ever album made up entirely of self-penned songs.

The album is in two halves; one based on story songs inspired by traditional Irish songs and the other half based on singer-songwriter style, introspective songs that look at lived experience, feminism, family, history and connection.

Both halves are a reflection on her life as a musician, from her traditional roots with the Traveller family The Dunne’s right up to writing with contemporary acts like Foy Vance and Ed Sheeran in recent years. This album is a chance to lend her own voice, with all its contradictions and nuances, to the musical landscape.

‘An unhurried, thoughtful collection that’s full of heart and soul. A long player to be savoured deep into the night.’ **** IRISH TIMES

Doors 2.30pm | Unreserved seating

An Evening with Ron Sexsmith

The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is delighted to present this special evening in the company of one of Canada’s greatest songwriters as he marks the release of new album The Vivian Line.

 The Vivian Line is the 17th album entry in Ron Sexsmith’s compelling discography, one matched by very few contemporary singer/songwriters.

His catalogue has earned him immense peer respect and a loyal international following, and this new release (February 2023) captures Ron at the top of his creative game.

These new songs all flowed from Sexsmith’s fertile musical and lyrical imagination in a short period of 2021 during covid. “The songs came out of nowhere,” Ron explains. “I wasn’t really writing after the [2020] release of my previous album, Hermitage. The older I get, the more I think ‘maybe this is it,’ but then I find myself with new ideas again and got excited.”

Doors 7.30pm | Unreserved seating

Otoboke Beaver + Drinking Boys and Girls Choir (Support)

Otoboke Beaver are a punk-rock-garage quartet from Kyoto, Japan. Formed at Kyoto University’s music club, the band consists of Accorinrin (Lead Vocal & Guitar), Yoyoyoshie (Guitar & Vocals), Hirochan (Bass & Vocals) and Kahokiss (Drums & Vocals).

Acco’s off-kilter, self-taught, compositional and confrontational performance skills, together with the band’s incredible musicianship make for a thrilling and unmissable live act.

Damnably Records released the compilation Okoshiyasu!! in March 2016, which was championed by Gideon Coe and Tom Ravenscroft on BBC6Music and John Kennedy on XFM.

2017 was a breakthrough year for the band, with attention from Pitchfork, NPR, i-D and The Fader and more, acclaimed debuts at SXSW and FujiRock Festival, a sold-out show in London’s legendary 100 Club, and their Love Is Short 7” charted in the UK for 4 weeks.

In 2018 the band’s ‘ATTYUUMA’ tour saw them travel over 24,000 miles in a week on a brief UK tour that was bookmarked by slots at Coachella Music Festival. Recent converts include Tadanobu Asano, Aidan Moffat and The Cribs, the latter describing them as “PUNK AS F*CK”.

After kicking things off at the SXSW 2019 music opening party and a run of wild showcases, the band released new album ITEKOMA HITS in April on Damnably, receiving widespread acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum, NYLON, BrooklynVegan and many more.

They made their European debut at Lowlands Festival in The Netherlands, appeared as part of the line up at Koyabu Sonic Festival in Japan, and composed the opening theme song for Japanese comedy series Susumu Inomata & 8 Mojo.

In 2020 the band were about to embark on a world tour. They completed a two week tour in Europe and were getting ready to start their first US tour when the world locked down due to the pandemic.

With touring no longer possible during that time, the band worked on new music. In preparation for the release of their new album, the band are looking forward picking up where they left off and will finally be on their way to world domination in 2023.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing


in partnership with the Japan Foundation           

Ichiko Aoba

Critically acclaimed Japanese singer, guitarist and composer Ichiko Aoba has announced a short tour of the US and continental Europe.

2022 was a momentous year for Aoba, with her US, UK and EU tours selling out and thousands of new fans falling for her unique and utterly spellbinding brand of music that crosses the boundaries of ambient folk, psych,  jazz and classical.

Her live shows have spawned viral buzz across  social networks, where she plays favourites from 10 years worth of rich catalogue as well as from her latest opus, Windswept Adan. 

Ichiko Aoba’s work gained greater exposure during the pandemic as the need for comfort grew while we sequestered in solitude. She has a rare musical gift that is matched only by her ability to hone it into meticulous craft.

Her music embraces and elevates alone time to a generous and tranquil place. In it, listeners are invited to feel a sense of consolation and possibility – a sensation which is mirrored in her live performances.

Doors 7.30pm | Mostly Standing

in partnership with the Japan Foundation

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The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Out To Lunch are annual festivals of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature which take place in January and May in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival / Out To Lunch Arts Festival
Unit 8
Northern Whig House
Bridge Street